From east to west
Chinese professor brings views on anti-Semitism and Zionism across ttie ocean.
BAILA LAZARUS STAFF REPORTER
When Professor Pan Guang was a child in Shanghai, Chinese and Jewish children played together. As they got older, that friendship remained. Anti-Semitism was, for the most part, im-heard of. Today, Jewish history, anti-Semitism and Zionism are studied at a scholarly level in China, just as Chinese history might be studied in Israel.
Prof Guang, dean of the Centre of Jewish Studies in Shanghai, came to speak about those issues in Vancouver on the last leg of a research trip funded by the Canadian government. He was at Hillel House July 4 discussing anti-Semitism and Zionism, and at the Holocaust Education Centre July 5 speaking about Jewish refiigees in Shanghai.
At Hillel House Prof Guang revealed that anti-Semitic activities have been quite minimal throughout China.
According to Prof Guang, one reason why no "spontaneous" or "indigenous" anti-Semitism has existed in China is because citizens realized Chinese and Jewish cultures have a lot in common. "Both emphasize family ties," Prof. Guang explained. "Both stress the importance of education, and both have the capability of subsistence, especially under difficult conditions."
In addition to these similarities. Prof. Guang also pointed out that the Chinese had suffered their own great losses during wartime fighting, so they empathize with Jewish suffering.
On the topic of Zionism, Prof. Guang said the movement received early support from Sun Yat-sen (considered the father of the Republic of China) who re-
lated to Zionism's characteristics of strong nationalism and Utopian socialism. Later in the century, however, relations between China and Israel deteriorated due to Cold War politics. Most Jewish refugees left China as well.
In the last two decades, Jewish and Israeli studies have been revived. More Chinese scholars began to write books and articles on Zionism and, in 1983, the first
Prof. Pan Guang, to an audience at Zionism from tlie
autlior of The Jews In Shanghai, iail(s Hiiiel House on anti-Semitism and Cliinese perspective.
nationwide conference on Zionism took place in China. The Centre of Jewish Studies was established in 1988, the first one in China.
"Before the early1980s, people knew nothing about Israel. . . Now, if you give a lecture about the recent Israeli election, maybe more than 300 or 400 people would come," the professor revealed.
"We are very happy that through our research on Zionism," Prof Guang concluded, 'Sve have improved the mutual understanding between the two peoples — Jewish people and Chinese people... the two oldest civiHzations in the world." □
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